Freezing Today? All That Shivering Actually Burns Body Fat

With temperatures dropping pretty much everywhere, sometimes even the coziest coat and sweater combo can’t combat our non-stop shivering. A new study shows that we might want to stop cursing the cold because shivering may actually help burn body fat. 

The study conducted by Garvan Institute of Medical Research shows that both shivering and moderate exercise are both capable of stimulating the conversion of energy storing “white fat” into energy burning “brown fat.” Overall, this makes brown fat a target against obesity and diabetes.

Endocrinologist Dr Paul Lee, from Sydney’s Garvan Institute of Medical Research and study author said, “when we are cold, we first activate our brown fat because it burns energy and releases heat to protect us. When that energy is insufficient, muscle contracts mechanically, or shivers, thereby generating heat. However, we did not know how muscle and fat communicate in this process.”

So, they took a closer look.

They exposed volunteers to cold temperatures of 16 to 14 degrees, which varied depending on the individual. From this, they were able to determine two hormones that were stimulated by the cold – irisin and FGF21- which ultimately sparked the energy burning rate of human white fat cells. The white cells then began to emit heat, which is typically something only done by brown fat cells.

What’s the class equivalent? “We found that exercising for an hour on a bicycle at a moderate level produced the same amount of irisin as shivering for 10-15 minutes,” he said.

So basically, they speculate that your fitness routine is mimicking shivering. Who knew?

Allison Cooper is a full time blogger at Project Motherhood and freelance writer. You can find her balancing her time equally between writing, spending time with her family, running, or sipping on strong coffee! Connect with her on twitter for daily chit chat and mama musings!